So there I was in the Art Institute of Chicago’s new wing this past weekend, taking it all in for the first time, when I came upon a fallen log set on blocks. Given my two recent tree posts from Boston and New York, reporting on this creates an arboreal trifecta.
Charles Ray found a fallen tree in a field in California, cut it into pieces with a chainsaw, and transported it piece by piece to his Los Angeles studio. Here, let him tell you the rest, courtesy of the wall text:
“Silicone molds were taken and a fiberglass version of the log was reconstructed. This was sent to Osaka, Japan, where master woodworker Yuboku Mukoyoshi and his apprentices carved my vision into reality using Japanese cypress (hinoki).” So it's an exact replica of the tree Ray found, except possibly in a different wood.
In its new incarnation the tree will likely have another 1000 years of life, according to Ray: “When I asked Mr. Mukoyoshi about the wood and how it would behave over time, he told me that it would be fine for 400 years and then it would go into a crisis; after 200 years of splitting and cracking, it would go into slow decline for another 400 years.”
Of course this tree has a controlled climate and, more important, museum conservators to look after it.
Let's walk around it counterclockwise:
Continuing around to the other side: Stepping back to take in its length; a long branch reveals the fragility of the log
Below: We continue circling; the gallery entrance is over your right shoulder as you view this end of the work